The feasibility of beach protection against off-shore oil spills by means of a sprayed-on polymeric film is reported. The concept involves the spraying of a threatened beach area with a water-soluble polymer which forms a protective film on drying. The film prevents the adsorption and absorption of oil by sand, rocks, and wood and thus facilitates clean-up. Ideally, the film should degrade and dissolve within 2 to 3 weeks of application.
Eighteen candidate resins systems were screened initially for their solution and film properties. Five were selected for further testing, and two were chosen for small-scale, mock-beach protection tests. One coat of 55% polyvinyl acetate provides good protection against oil permeation of sand and against staining of wood and rocks. The film is nontoxic and clear; it does not adversely affect a beach site. However, under laboratory conditions, the film is quite slow to degrade.